We tend to carry all kinds of personal items in our purses or wallets. While it is necessary to carry your driver’s license and credit cards, it can be dangerous to carry other documents and information. If your wallet is lost or stolen, your bank account and identity could be at risk.
Never Carry These Items in Your Wallet
Open your wallet and take time to ensure these items aren’t inside of it.
Social Security Card
Never carry your Social Security card. Instead, memorize your Social Security number.
Very few establishments ask for your Social Security number or need a copy of your card. If you’re asked for this, you should ask why the business needs it and how it can guarantee your information will not be compromised. Data breaches are an everyday occurrence now, and if a business has your Social Security number on file and it gets hacked, all of the information it has on record can be stolen.
Never carry this with you. If you do need to provide it, call ahead and ask whether a copy will be sufficient. If you must present the original, take it with you just for that appointment.
Your passport is essential to enter most foreign countries. But here’s some potentially controversial advice: Never carry it with you when you’re not traveling abroad.
A thief may be able to use your passport to open bank accounts, get a copy of your Social Security card, travel using your name and more. When you are traveling with your passport, make a copy or keep a photo of it on your phone, and lock the original in the hotel safe.
Every Single Credit Card
You don’t need to carry every single credit or debit card that you own. Instead, carry only the ones you need at the time. Many people have lots of credit cards but don’t use them often. It is best to leave them at home unless you need them that day.
Some receipts contain personal information. Keep them at home instead of in your wallet or purse.
If a thief steals your spare keys they have access to your home. Changing the locks on your house can be time-consuming and expensive. Instead, leave a set of spare keys with a trusted relative or friend.
Carry your Medicare and/or insurance cards with you only when going to an appointment. Otherwise, leave them at home.
Take These Steps if Your Wallet Is Stolen
Contact financial institutions: Report the loss as quickly as possible. You may need to contact both your bank and credit card company. Your credit card numbers can be canceled and new transactions can be denied to help prevent financial loss.
File a report: File reports with the Federal Trade Commission and the police.
Add a security alert to your credit report: All three credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — have security alerts that can help protect your identity if your wallet is stolen.
Monitor your credit: Sign up for a free credit monitoring service such as Credit Karma so you’ll be alerted right away if something happens in your financial life that you didn’t authorize.
Freeze your credit: If you have not already placed a freeze on your credit with each agency, do it right away. We have the steps for you here.
It may be easy to let cards and other items accumulate in your wallet. But try to take time every few weeks to comb through it. You’ll thank yourself if you ever lose your wallet!